Elderberry jelly
Elderberry jelly without pectin

Whether you turn this into a syrup or jelly really depends on a few factors. First of all I don’t use store bought pectin, I depend on the pectin that comes out of a lemon and some apples or the fruit itself. Using store bought pectin almost always ensures you’ll get a firm jelly texture.

If the juice isn’t cooked long enough to reach the jelly threshold, you’ll end up with syrup instead of jelly. But don’t fret over all that because elderberries make the most beautiful dark red syrup for pancakes, french toast or dribble some syrup over ice cream, whatever your imagination may come up with. I also hear that elderberries have great health benefits.

Ya, it’s a bit of work making your own jelly or syrup, but if you weren’t up to it you wouldn’t be searching for the recipe 😉
I have a huge elderberry bush on my property, so it’s very convenient for me to pick the fruit a little at a time since the fruit doesn’t all ripen at once anyways. I sometimes freeze the fruit and make the syrup at my convenience without a noticeable difference in quality.

*note, If you are using store-bought pectin follow the package instructions for red currants or blackberries.

Once you get your berries home, rinse them well and remove the berries from the stem with a fork. Only use the dark really ripe berries. The rest of the under ripe berries and the stem is poisonous, contains cyanide they say.

Elderberry jelly without pectin

If not using store-bought pectin continue here:

Put the elderberries in a large stainless steel pot, (Use a deep pot and only fill half way. This applies when cooking any fruit. The juice needs room to bubble and may boil all over the stove.) for 2 cups of de-stemmed berries chop up 1 apple and a 1/2 lemon (this is for natural pectin to help firm the jelly. Not needed for syrup) Add a little water, just to barely cover the fruit and cook on medium heat which should be a gentle boil for maybe 20-30 minutes. Mash the fruit with a potato masher to help release the juice.

When the juice looks richer and darker, strain with a fine mesh stainless steel strainer or use a couple layers of cheesecloth. Or get a jelly strainer.
Measure the juice after straining and for every cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
Boil juice and sugar on medium high while constantly but gently stirring so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. After about 15-20 minutes do the wrinkle test and this is where you decide whether you want jelly or syrup. Cook longer for a firm jelly.

* Wrinkle test: Put a small plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Then dribble some juice on the plate and wait a minute then use your finger and push the juice, if it looks a little wrinkled then you have jelly.

Sterilise jars and new lids in a large pot of simmering water. Fill the hot jars with hot elderberry juice wipe rim with clean paper towel before placing lid and rim and seal immediately by hand tightening.

You can use the water-bath method to be sure the jars are sealed very well, just to be safe. Even though my mother would keep canned stuff forever,I tend not to keep preserved jams longer than about 6-12 months. I think the older generation just knew what they were doing though.

Water bath method: After tightening lids by hand place jars in a pot of water and boil for about 10 minutes to create a better seal for preserving your jelly. I use this site for up to date canning instruction:  Bernardin Home Canning

When you hear the lids get sucked in (it’s a popping sound) you know the jar is sealed. This takes anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or even over night.
To check if a jar is sealed, push down in the centre top if it moves its not sealed, Keep the unsealed jar in the fridge to be used first.

Tips for cooking fruit:
-Use a deep pot and only fill half way. This applies when cooking any fruit. The juice needs room to rise and foam and may boil all over the stove.
-Only use stainless steel for everything when it comes to canning, the acids in fruit are reactive. For a great example of what happens, go to my red currant page to see a picture of my berries in a non stainless steel strainer. https://www.urbanwhisk.com/red-currant-jelly-html/

Elderberry bush
Elderberry bush
Simmering elderberries
Simmering elderberries

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One Comment

  1. Lisa Baudet says:

    This jelly is my all time favourite!

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